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Addison's Disease Syndrome; the flip side of Cushings

Updated on February 3, 2013
JFK was diagnosed with Addison's disease
JFK was diagnosed with Addison's disease | Source

Adrenal Hypofunction

Addison's disease, like Cushing's syndrome is considered to be a disorder of the adrenal glands and is related to the Endocrine system. Adrenal insufficiency is classified as either primary or secondary. Primary adrenal insufficiency, is often referred to as Addison's disease, and is usually due to a destructive disease process affecting the adrenal glands that result in deficiencies of cortisol and aldosterone. The most common cause of Addison's disease is idiopathic atrophy, an autoimmune disease in which adrenal tissue is destroyed/adrophied by antibodies formed by the patient's own immune system. Other causes of Addison's disease are tuberculosis, hemorrhage, and fungal infections. Secondary adrenal insufficiency is a result of dysfunction of the hypothalamus or pituitary. The condition can be fatal if left untreated.

Signs and Symptoms of Addison's Disease

Decrease secretion of adrenal cortex hormones (glugocorticoids and mineralocorticoids)= Addison's disease.

Lethargy, fatigue and muscle weakness

Weight loss

Menstrual changes in women and impotence in men.

Hyperpigmentation ( bronzed color to the skin) with primary Addison's diesease

Addisonian Chrisis

  • this is a life-threatening situation caused by acute adreanal insufficiency
  • brought on by stress, infection, trauma surgery, or the abrupt withdrawal of corticosteroid use.
  • May cause hypoglycemia, and shock


Lifelong glucocorticoid therapy

once diagnosed with Addison's disease, one should always wear a medic-alert bracelet

diet high in protein and carbohydrate intake.

Avoid strenuous exercise and stress


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    • Skarlet profile image

      Skarlet 5 years ago from California

      Thank you Kat11. You are very correct too.

    • kat11 profile image

      kat11 5 years ago from Illinois

      Unfortunately like any other immune diseases. Today's primary care physicians don't want to look for them or you go to so many specialist because it is similar to other disease. Voted up and found this hub page was not only interesting but informative.